Credit: San Sebastian Film Festival
by InRO Staff Featured Festival Coverage Film

San Sebastián Film Festival 2023: Dispatch 1 — Films We’ve Already Covered

September 27, 2023

The Delinquents

Blanket declarations about three-hour-plus runtimes always seem curious when filmmakers employ said length for wildly different purposes. Though the sweeping epic may be the most classic Hollywood implementation, the space can be used to house labyrinthine plots, emphasize repetition, or facilitate other… [Previously Published Full Review.] JESSE CATHERINE WEBBER

Credit: Jon Pack

Past Lives

With Past Lives, director Celine Song has a fine story on her hands — and she knows it. A decade after immigrating with her family from South Korea to Canada, Nora (Greta Lee) finds herself in New York, reconnecting over Skype with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), a childhood friend she once said she’d marry. But when she… [Previously Published Full Review.] LAWRENCE GARCIA


From the first moments of Tótem, it’s easy to think about Lucas Dhont, which is never a good thing. Like Dhont’s recently released Close, Lila Avilés’ sophomore feature is shot in that familiar festival style: tight close-ups, handheld and with a shallow depth of field. If this approach, at first, endeavored to push… [Previously Published Full Review.] ESMÉ HOLDEN

Credit: Christian Schulz Schramm Film


In Christian Petzold’s latest film, sexual tensions rumble with such intensity that the only natural outcome is the eruption of a devastating forest fire. Afire is something of a reinvention for Petzold, moving away from the politico-historical drama (which dominated his filmography from Barbara to Transit) and into… [Previously Published Full Review.] RYAN AKLER-BISHOP

The Human Surge 3

Though comfortably placed in the more adventurous screening programs at film festivals, Eduardo Williams’ work has also managed to stand proudly independent of the dominant trends in arthouse film culture. These films are ethnographic studies without being rigorously academic, slow without making “slowness” a core… [Previously Published Full Review.] ZACH LEWIS

The Taste of Things

Trần Anh Hùng’s The Pot-au-Feu charts a romance between gourmet chef Dodin Bouffant (Benoit Magimel) and his cook, Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), in late 18th-century France. Their relationship as creative collaborators and lovers sidesteps the typical pitfalls of complicated entanglement or fraught power dynamics, Hùng instead taking… [Previously Published Full Review.] EMILIO DIAZ

Credit: Cannes Film Festival

The Zone of Interest

The issue at the heart of Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is one of the oldest in the cinema: how does one represent the unrepresentable? Loosely adapted from Martin Amis’ novel of the same name, and set in 1942, the film is centered around the Höss household: a German family who live in… [Previously Published Full Review.] LAWRENCE GARCIA


The familiar quietude of vacant alleys, secret crooks, and empty restaurants; those shared moments of unspoken reminiscence and silenced discovery. With Here, Bas Devos trains his patient gaze on the ambiguity of attraction, whether for another person or for the microscopic environments flourishing under the scrutiny of moss… [Previously Published Full Review.] ZACHARY GOLDKIND


Elena Martín Gimeno is the director, co-writer, and star of Creatura, a somewhat oddly titled film. When Mila (Gimeno) and her partner find themselves unable to have sex during a period of stay at Mila’s childhood home, the situation leads to the couple’s estrangement. Mila then develops a rash, exacerbating issues of physical intimacy, while her partner is… [Previously Published Full Review.] JESSE CATHERINE WEBBER

Credit: Gariza Films/Inicia Films

20,000 Species of Bees

Set in the rural Spanish countryside, Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s 20,000 Species of Bees centers on a transgender eight-year-old girl who happens to be visiting family over a weekend for the occasion of a christening. But while all others find themselves caught up in their own problems, this young girl is… [Previously Published Full Review.] MATTIE LUCAS


The tenets of toxic masculinity are tried and true, displayed in manifold methods of patriarchal oppression, and specifically in conjunction with a process of internalized suppression. Any and all signifiers on this subject have been wrung quite profusely over the last handful of years, and it’s becoming increasingly… [Previously Published Full Review.] ZACHARY GOLDKIND

Les Indésirables

“The real problem [or] the central mystery of politics is not sovereignty, but government; it is not God, but the angel; it is not the king, but ministry; it is not the law, but the police — that is to say, the governmental machine that they form and support.” Those are the words of the controversial Italian… [Previously Published Full Review.] JOSHUA POLANSKI

Credit: Les Films du Poisson

Orlando, My Political Biography

Berlinale’s Encounters section has largely been a platform for lesser known filmmakers since its inception, though it’s also seen its fair share of high profile directors, including Bertrand Bonello, Cristi Puiu, and Hong Sang-soo. This year Hong is joined by Paul B. Preciado, a prominent… [Previously Published Full Review.] JESSE CATHERINE WEBBER


With his latest film Monster, Hirokazu Kore-eda has outdone himself. Rather than make one bad film, as he usually does, the Japanese director has made the equivalent of three, each one worse and more wrongheaded than the last. The first of the film’s three parts opens promisingly enough, centered on… [Previously Published Full Review.] LAWRENCE GARCIA


The first feature from Chinese filmmaker Wu Lang, Absence shares a title and cast with the director’s second short film, which played at Cannes in 2021. The distributor of this film’s synopsis for said short hints at the relationship between the two, suggesting that both are about two former lovers reuniting after some time apart. The short… [Previously Published Full Review.] SEAN GILMAN

Credit: 2022 PFF PARTNERS PiaHoriPro Inc.NIKKATSU PFF General Incorporated Association

Remembering Every Night

Director Kiohara Yui’s last feature, Our House — which debuted in 2017, and which this writer briefly reviewed here at InRO when it played the New Directors/New Films Festival in 2018 — was a kind of a mellow haunted house film that interwove the lives of different women who happened to occupy… [Previously Published Full Review.] SEAN GILMAN

The Eternal Memory

For a work whose subject matter purports to straddle the lofty and permanent, its subject appears remarkably contingent. The Eternal Memory, Maite Alberdi’s latest documentary following 2020’s docufiction The Mole Agent, takes on both personal and political significance as it delineates the intricacies of… [Previously Published Full Review.] MORRIS YANG

Dumb Money

Back in 2006, five years after 9/11, the question of when enough time had passed for Hollywood to grapple with a national tragedy was a conversation at the forefront of pop culture, with audiences greeting films like United 93 and World Trade Center with something between apprehension and outright rejection. No one is likely to confuse… [Previously Published Full Review.] ANDREW DIGNAN

Credit: JK Films and Potocol

Inside the Yellow Cocoon

Newly christened Director’s Fortnight General Delegate Julien Rejl has expressed a desire to highlight new voices with his first programmed slate — not just by selecting filmmakers who are early in their careers, but also films still lacking sales representation. And it’s a gesture toward the success of… [Previously Published Full Review.] JESSE CATHERINE WEBBER

The Echo

Classified as a documentary in the Berlin festival catalog, Tatiana Huezo’s new film The Echo is more accurately clarified as a scripted film shot on real locations with actual people performing staged or otherwise choreographed variations of their daily lives. It’s not as heady as that might sound — Huezo isn’t… [Previously Published Full Review.] DANIEL GORMAN